Monday, December 22, 2014

On the third day...

Things are much calmer, at least at home. Got some cooking done, a little bit of sewing, a bit of cleaning and some organizing.

It's been a difficult day for the city, however. At long last, the Milwaukee District Attorney has come out with his recommendation on whether or not to charge former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney in the death of Dontre Hamilton.

The short version of the incident: Hamilton was sleeping on a bench in a public park. Officer Manney asked him to leave, and was patting him down when Hamilton became combative. Manney tried to subdue him with his baton, but Hamilton grabbed it and began to attack the officer. Manney did what he was trained to do - drew his weapon and shot until the threat was stopped. It took fourteen shots. It came out later that Hamilton was mentally ill, and some of his behavior may have been a result of that illness.

Our appeasement-focused police chief fired Manney over the summer, claiming he violated some procedures. The police union responded with a no confidence vote against the chief. Meanwhile, protests have popped up periodically, getting worse after the events in Ferguson, and continuing to escalate, though remaining peaceful. Indeed, no protesters were arrested until this last weekend, when they climbed onto the freeway and blocked traffic in both directions. Note it was the county sheriff - not the police chief - who ordered those arrests.

Today, eight months after the incident, the DA has said he will not be pressing charges, The entire report is here, but the bottom line is that in a situation where an officer "reasonably perceives that he is confronted with a situation exposing him to death or great bodily harm, he is allowed to use force---not to wound or kill---but to stop the threat. The overwhelming evidence in this case supports a finding that Officer Manney was confronted by such a circumstance when he encountered Dontre Hamilton on April 30th, 2014 in Red Arrow Park."

As you can imagine, the decision did not sit well with the family, particularly the brother of the victim, who, in the press conference they called after the decision was made public, called for people to "get rid of these pigs that kill us", clearly meaning the police. I happened to be watching that press conference, and noted that the family's lawyers (all white, by the way) attempting unsuccessfully to urge restraint.

A friend commented on Facebook that he fully expects our city to see the kind of thing going on in Ferguson in Milwaukee next summer (apparently, it's too cold to loot and burn innocent businesses to the ground in a Milwaukee winter). Unfortunately, as people - and especially the news media - speculates on that, it is likely to become a self fulfilling prophecy.

The family has appealed to the Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorney has announced a review of the case. In his document responding to the decision, the family's attorney made explicit comparisons between this case and the Michael Brown case, frankly trying to further stoke the fire.

When you are so moved, pray for the city. Pray for the families involved, both of the victim and the officer. Pray for those who find joy in creating and increasing strife and racial tension to lose all power.

1 comment:

melissa said...

I hear ya. Totally understand what you're saying.

Merry Christmas, love. Hope you have a restful week. <3